50 min read

#10 - How to Build a Cozy Company with Brie Wolfson of Constellate

#10 - How to Build a Cozy Company with Brie Wolfson of Constellate

In this episode, we talk about building intentional, cohesive, and cozy—yes, *cozy*—companies with Brie Wolfson, founder of Constellate. We geek out on:

  • Why Operating Principles are more useful than company values (and how to develop them)
  • The role Culture Carriers play in scaling your company (and how to recognize and nurture them)
  • How to build a Culture of Writing that helps your company feel cozy.

Brie is the founder of Constellate and creator of The Kool-Aid Factory, a series of web zines about building great organizations. She has worked at organizations like Stripe, Figma, and Google, and consulted with dozens of startups on how to scale culture.

Resources Mentioned



Andy: Hey folks, welcome to the People Everywhere Show it's Andy Kitson here. One half of your hosting duo. In today's episode, Niko and I talk with Brie Wolfson about creating intentional and cohesive cultures and specifically how to build a culture of writing.

I first became aware of breath through her work on The Kool-Aid Factory, which is a series of web zines all about building great organizations. You can check it out at KoolAidfactory.com. That's Kool-Aid with a K. It is just bursting with useful frameworks for scaling culture and operations. And it's also just totally fun and whimsical.

Brie has worked at Stripe and Figma and Google, and has consulted with dozens and dozens of startups on how to scale culture. Recently she founded Constellate to address a gap she noticed as she worked with teams to use writing as a tool in scaling culture.

In today's conversation, we explore three big topics. First we go deep on operating principles. What they are, why they might be more useful than company values and how to develop them. Then we talk about culture carriers [00:01:00] and the role these people play in helping you scale your company. Finally, we talk about building a culture of writing and Brie shares a bit about what she's up to with Constellate. All right. Let's get to it.

Brie, welcome to the show.

Brie: Oh, thank you for having me.

Andy: To start, could you maybe just kind of talk through some of like the, the big themes that show up in your, in your work, and just like how did those develop over the course of your career?

Brie: Yeah, I, I think the big themes would have to just be a, just a general desire to be a helpful person. I grew up playing team sports as a competitive athlete. Played soccer all through college. And I actually, I think just a few years ago, I should back check this, but my record for a number of assists was just recently broken.

So I think there's a good, a good metaphor the much more of a, of a passer than a score maybe. . Um, But I really grew up in my career, like as always wanting to be an operator or an IC. I never had grand [00:02:00] ambitions to manage huge teams or be at huge companies. In fact, I think I had one like personal principle, like once a company had an elevator, I had to leave something, which seems like an outdated mindset now with all this hybrid stuff.

But I think just like generally being part of the thing matters and just showing up in a way where I felt like I could be useful or add value and I was open, completely open-minded to what that looked like.

Andy: Can you talk about the, the shift from kind of that mindset of like, once a company has an elevator, you have to leave to like, I don't know if you call it, like, growing out of it, abandoning it maybe holding onto it in some way. Just kinda like, where, where, where are you at with that today?

And how did you kinda like go? where you were to where you are now.

Brie: Yeah, I mean, I definitely did not grow out of it. Part of the purpose behind Constellate which hopefully we'll talk about later, is that I just want to help organizations feel cozy for longer. And

Andy: beautiful.

Brie: yeah, it, I think it, you know, it's funny when I first said that to someone, they were like, it [00:03:00] seems like you, there's something like a nostalgia or for the way it used to be.

and it's not quite that, you know, from working at Stripe, it was always amazing when the new hires list was coming out cuz you were like, what kick ass people am I gonna get to work with next? Because I really had a belief that I would be able to get to know these people and see them work and get to cozy up next to them.

So it's not about growth or backwards looking, it's just about feeling like Yeah, a cozy feeling of you got to know people. So I like, I hope to build an organization like that of my own, I guess. T B D on the elevator thing. But really I feel like my life's work is kind of to help organizations feel like that cozy, that cozy place.

Niko: Can, can we just go a level deeper on what you mean by cozy?

Brie: Yeah. maybe one, like to paint a picture of a thing that felt really new and cool to me in working at a company. When I joined Stripe, you never like went to lunch with your clique. You didn't like ping your four people and were [00:04:00] like, Hey, when do you guys wanna get lunch? You just went when you were hungry and sat down with whoever.

And I, I kind of had that feeling playing sports growing up where like, I don't know, team lunch, you just kind of sit with anyone or on the bus you kind of sit with anyone just cause you're really just, you're all part of it. Just being, maybe being on that team, be it a working team or a sports team or whatever else means that you have enough in common that you don't need to do one more thing.

So I think that's what I mean by cozy. Just like the idea that you are part of this thing is enough of a connection.

Andy: are, are there certain things that say you, you have to protect in order to, like, maintain coziness or like actively promote, or, or like, kinda what, what are some of the, like the things that you do to like make a place cozy?

Brie: Yeah, definitely. You have to be clear about what kind of thing vibes and you have to be upfront about that. If you say everyone can be part of it, then it kind of means no one is. So I [00:05:00] think having some kind of criteria that excludes reasonable people is part of the thing.

And I know exclusion is not a comfy phrase for us, especially right now, and I, I should probably get more clear about what I mean by excluding the right people. But I also mean just being clear about who you want to include. What's the right group of people to bring along so that you can keep that connective tissue and the trust flowing.

Maybe I can share like, a pot pourri of like ideas and examples that might drive this home a little better. So one is one of my favorite books about company building ever, ever, ever is this book called Anything You Want by Derek Sivers. And he has this quote in it that I think of all the time, and he says, when you make a business, you get to make a little universe where you control all the laws, and this is your utopia.

I think of that with, I, I talk to founders about this a lot in my work consulting on Kool-Aid Factory because I think they forget that they get to decide these kinds of things. Like what are the laws of our [00:06:00] little universe? Like who do we invite onto our quirky planet? And I think when we say inclusion and exclusion, now we think about things on the basis of like gender or identity or sex or race.

And what I really mean is something else. I mean just like how do you just like to move through space? How do you like to get work done? You know, some people like micromanagement if you can believe it. So the kind of just getting prescriptive about that kind of stuff. And, and the story I wanna tell that I think will be illuminating is when I worked with this neat company called Replit on their operating principles.

We were workshopping one that was sort of about like the run towards the hard stuff value and. Where Amjad, the one of the founders wanted to land was seek pain. And I was like, no way. That's like, that is, no, that's like too radical. You're not gonna get the right people in. It's gonna be scary.

Someone's gonna weaponize it. No way. And he was like, we're doing it. And I was like, okay, well then this is gonna be a fun experiment for me. And the team loves it. They [00:07:00] love it. They like put it on all this swag. They like made all these neat posters about it because they're hardcore and that's just like the kind of person that thrives at this company.

And they're not trying to like, harm each other of course, but it really works for them because it helps them say that thing that's like, we do hard stuff here. And I thought it was a totally radical phrase, but it really worked for them. And it, it's really high signal in their interview process if you're kind of spooked by that, it's not the right place for you.

Andy: Yeah. Yeah, that's like a really interesting one. For, for all the reasons you listed because like it could be so easily weaponized. It could be like off-putting to people you probably do want, but also maybe highly attractive to other people you also want.

Brie: Yes.

Andy: What are some of like the things that make that work for them that might not make it for someone who wants to be like them?

Brie: There's always like an authenticity piece to Like a lot of founders will ask me, can I have an operating principle that doesn't come from me? Or like, does culture come from me? In some ways I think you can [00:08:00] use operating principles to correct for behavior that you might not naturally exude.

Like there's a famous story of, I think it's someone a16z having something around being on time and he's like not a naturally on time person. And so he implemented like a tip jar kind of thing if you're late to the meeting. So I think there's some level where you. Use it as a stop gap. But really I think if, if you're not the seek pain type and you implement a kind of operating principle around seeking pain, then the behaviors and the words start to not line up.

And that's like the danger zone in my mind, in the trust category. So I would say if you're gonna implement an operating principle, be prepared to act in ways that back it up.

Andy: So this is a good point to transition, like actually into the operating principles discussion or, or maybe yeah, just kinda recognize that we're in it and and go for it. So could you talk a little bit about like, what are operating principles? How do you think about those in relation to values, which I, I think are maybe related and kind of a more common way to talk about [00:09:00] something similar at least?

Brie: Yeah. , so I, I advocate for calling what I think a lot of organizations call values. Just calling them operating principles. I don't think they really have a difference in or, or the, the final artifact doesn't look different, but the ethos around them I think might. And the idea there is that values are things you hold true and are persistent, whereas operating principles are things you might expect to evolve.

Operating principles is more about like, this is what works in terms of how we work right now. It might not always be that case in the future. Like the classic example is like, frugality might be really useful for an early team, but once you know what works, or you got some funding or whatever it is, you can probably spend money to make it.

Another famous one is obviously Facebook's move fast and break things, worked really well for a time and then became completely inappropriate at some point. So if you wanna make these things your values, you should probably make them true for the whole time. Whereas operating principles are sort of meant [00:10:00] to be dynamic and updated.

Does it make sense?

Andy: Yeah. And, and just like the, the word operating in, in the title I, I think, kinda, kinda underlines that.

Brie: Yeah. Something cool about them too. And I, this is what I think actually kind of brings founders into this mindset too, is to say, then you can use your operating principles as a way to say, Hey, there's a breaking change to the way this company needs to operate. We used to wanna be frugal, but now things are different, so we're gonna strike this one from the record.

It's a really useful mechanism to say, Hey, we've, we've changed or we want to change is just a point to the words and say, we're gonna change those.

Andy: Yeah. It it kind of like there's this built in standard for like, like is this working is a real question you can ask of an operating principle that doesn't quite make sense with a value of like, there, there's not quite the same functional, like, is this value serving us?

Brie: Yeah, exactly. You wanna be able to use them in the run of work to correct behavior. So this is the difference between integrity, like, you know, [00:11:00] the Enron value or whatever, and don't be evil from Google where it's like you can kind of say one or invoke one and not the other. can imagine when someone's making, or it seems like they might be doing something a little shady, it's easier for someone to be to say, don't be evil than to just be like integrity.

Andy: Yeah, the, the integrity sounds more like a, a, a magic spell you're trying to cast, whereas the the don't be evil is, is like actually helpful to the person you're saying it to maybe. Could you maybe kind of talk us through just like the, the, the coming up with operating principles, like how do you, how do you just like, go from the point where maybe you, you're operating, you're doing it in a way that, that might have kinda like a distinct flavor to it, to like then having that codified in, like in, in these operating principles.

Brie: Yeah. Yeah, it's a good question. Yeah. I would say, and maybe some just helpful context in general, is [00:12:00] that I spent about two years working with teams of lots of shapes and sizes on their operating principles. So probably in over the course of two years wrote maybe 50 company set of company values, and it's for sure an art.

As a consultant, I tried to kind of turn it into a science, but I also think it's worth preserving the art of it. So with that context here is like the process that I would recommend. Three phases. Research is phase number one. Phase number two is like drafting and phase number three is rollout.

They're all very important and maybe the rollout is as important as getting the content right. So we can we'll hit that too. I think the research phase is probably the most interesting one cuz there's a big choice here is like, do you want to do these kind of tops down? And is the research kind of like an inward looking spiritual journey about what you want for your company or is the research process kind of core [00:13:00] sampling across your team or asking your team what they want to see from the org?

I've seen it work both ways. Usually small teams, it will just be from founders pen to the team's ears. , but I think there's something valuable about asking, asking your team what they think the operating principles are or like what works here. And then to the words informing actions or changes thing.

It also allows you a, a place to stand from to say, Hey, I know you think we work like this here, but actually it's that,

Andy: i, I, is it mostly just kind of. Size that, that would tip one to like going in the direction of sort of introspecting and coming up with them versus having a more open approach?

Brie: Yeah. It's a good question. I, that's intuitive to me, and that's what I thought was going to be the case going in. But no, it turned out that wasn't the case. Founders with small teams. They like really trust their collective small group of people the amalgam is actually like kind of more interesting than the founder.

Maybe they hired up against their [00:14:00] weaknesses or they brought on an expert in a current space that they want their voice in. So anyway, some small teams are excited about the group, the group method. Yeah, it's, it, it, it's interesting. It's like, to your point on the authenticity piece earlier, it kind of, it really just is about like what the leader wants cuz they have to be the ones to, to, to carry them out.

Andy: When, when do they start this process? Is there like a, a triggering event or is it just a, you know, it's, it's the new year and like, I'm in that reflective mood anyways, or like kind of what's, what's usually the tips 'em over into doing it?

Brie: it's a really good question. So I, I'll start with also my, what my hypothesis was before I started doing this work, which was that teams were gonna call me when they were kind of crossing Dunbar's number. So like one 50 ish, which I guess Dunbar's number has kind of been disproven, but it's supposed to be like the number of people you can kind of hold true relationships with that one time.

So I was like, yeah, people are gonna call me when they're about one 50. People don't really know [00:15:00] each other's names anymore. They might not know what they're working on and they need something to bring some cohesion to the company. But it turned out that founders were calling me with teams of 15, 20, 30 people and to the like, inciting incident question.

I, I called these like there was a cultural breach where like a high performer that they thought was really happy just like quit out of nowhere or someone like said something kind of weird in all hands or like DMed the all at channel with something kind of off-brand or something.

Something happens when they're like, wait, what? Already? Like two people they thought should, like each other don't, or just one of these kinds of things where you're like, whoa, I thought we were really on the same page. But I guess not, and this is surprise.

And then you say, okay, I think it's time to make some of these things that I thought were just implicitly known, explicit, right? Like, you always wanna sort of be able to like point to the company policy. If you're like, someone like showed up to work wearing something inappropriate and you're, you're like, wait, how would they even know what was not appropriate to wear to work? And we [00:16:00] never wrote down what's appropriate.

Andy: Yeah. Yeah. And it's that sort of unsettling thing that is easy to extrapolate, to like, what are all the other things that I just take for granted that, that other people don't?

Brie: Totally.

Andy: How, how do you, yeah. Like, just kinda like, at least be clear as, as, as a first step.

Brie: Yeah. And also like on this kind of like nuance of what operating principles actually are. I say that they're meant to be simultaneously descriptive and aspirational. So some things are so obvious, but everyone still puts them in like users first .

And then there's this whole other set of like, things you want to be true about your company or your team that just isn't quite true yet. And you want everyone to be able to have the language to like usher the group towards it together.

Niko: Could you share some examples just so we are kind of grounded in like, what are some operating principles that

Brie: Yeah. Yeah. Actually let me I have a, like a list of all of them that I've ever researched or wrote, so, oh, okay. This company called Primer, [00:17:00] they started as kind of like a homeschooling platform for kids, and now they're, they're evolving. But in their office there's a huge neon sign that says, take kids seriously. And what's awesome about that is they have like all these, you know, user feedback things and it's from like, literally like eight year olds.

And you can imagine just being like, what does this, you know, kid know about like, how this product should work and just, yeah, you gotta take kids seriously. So this is their, like, users one, but it a, you can see how it also like brings, it carries with it like the ethos of the company.

This same company called Primer, they have another operating principle, which maybe speaks more towards the question you're asking Niko, which is it's called Stay Hydrated. And this is the one that's about making sure that you're healthy and you can run the marathon. And this is a group that's super hardworking, very prone to burnout.

And I, they use this one when they're like I see someone sort of cuspy maybe too many late nights in a row. This is the one that's like, Hey, I think it's [00:18:00] time to, to stay hydrated. Like take a, take a beat.

Niko: The, these are not like a policy, like a dress code, it's more like a directional, sort of braze a battle cry, if you will.

Brie: Yep. Yep. Ooh. Okay. Here's another, here's another great example of one that I think we'll speak to some of this sign your work and what comes with this one is a story about how when Steve Jobs shipped the original Apple computer, there's a panel in the back where all the people who worked on it put their signatures on it.

And the idea was that artists signed their work and anyone working on like beautiful things should also sign their work. This is the quality one, but how poetic, how much nicer to remind your colleagues, like, do we wanna sign this? Then saying like, it's not up to snuff, or like, that pixel's wrong.

Like this is the way, like, would we sign this um, is really nice.

, now you can maybe have a picture of like these poetic phrases you can actually imagine people saying to each other and they can kind of like cross power lines because they're sort of [00:19:00] delicately crafted as as nice, nice phrases.

Andy: Just kind of like hearing you talk about this, Brie, like, like it's, sounds like you sort of have a taxonomy of these. Uh, Different sorts of, of, of operating principles. I think you've mentioned a quality one, a user's one, an integrity one. if you're building a set of operating principles, are there like certain ones that, that just kinda like keep showing up over and over?

Ones that like are, must have some that are optional. Would just like to hear you talk about,

Brie: Yeah,

Andy: about operating principles as a set.


Brie: The listeners won't be able to see me, but I'm smirking because I totally just like revealed a part of my process. I tried to let, speaking of like art going into science, which is that I try to let these things emerge from their like organic and authentic place. But as you're pointing out, the truth is there are just general buckets, so I'm happy to, to read those



no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. It's not, it's not. No, I think it's actually, it's good to keep in mind, so [00:20:00] often a part of the process is to say like, Hey, I'm gonna like maybe potentially expose some blind spots here. Here's stuff you didn't, that didn't come up throughout the process that maybe we do wanna speak to.

So yeah, once that is like typically there's something around like the mission or the ecosystem, how you wanna show up in your broader broader ecosystem. One on like the product and quality thing. And just like think seeing some here sign your work, came up in that invent and simplifies a famous Amazon one I think would be in this bucket.

Always a user's first one, which is great. I never good to overlook this one, I think is like usually without any users, there's no business. Something around like speed, focus, ownership, velocity, something about that pace. Notion's got one that's be a pace setter that I really like. another bucket that kind of surprised me, but it just emerged around like an intellectually, an intellectual honesty, like curiosity, rigorous thinking.

One around kindness, belonging, [00:21:00] collaboration, that sort of one just um, which, you know, often kind of flexes into the intellectually honesty one in a cool way where it's like, part of being intellectually honest is being able to in, in integrate a lot of different ideas.

And then there's sort of like a catchall bucket that I say like on mindset and style , which is sort of just, I don't know, someone's vibe is what I would put in this category. And then there's always. Not always, but often founders, especially at high growth companies, will want one around like embracing change.

Amazon's version of this is day zero, but there's other ones that are like, edit the company or edit the organization. Don't rest on your laurels kind of thing.

Andy: And, and earlier you mentioned that being kind of a balance of aspiration versus ones that are like really grounded in today's performance. Like, how do you think about, is that like you, you want some of your operating principles to be aspirational or there should be aspiration built into [00:22:00] each one, or yeah.

We'd like to hear you just talk a little bit more about that balance.

Brie: Yeah. Good cue. I think the main, like, the main way I think about operating principle is just like a re a reminder to behave away

Andy: Mm.

Brie: So if you're one of these companies where you're like, the way you currently are is a little far away from how you wanna be, probably having more in the aspirational bucket.

Makes sense. I think a lot of companies are like, they feel pretty good, especially smaller ones. They feel pretty good about where they're at, so they end up gearing around, like more descriptive. And these are more of like an onboarding mechanism than anything else. But. It depends.

When I think of what makes a good operating principle, I think the quickest way to to do this is to imagine someone, imagine two scenarios. One is that there's an IC see that you don't know an individual contributor, you don't know in a meeting with a new leader that you're not totally sure is great yet, and the new leader is recommending something weird.

And you have to imagine that this individual contributor, you don't really know, has to say like, no, we [00:23:00] should really keep this on the rails. These operating principles, they, they have to be so true that anyone can say them and it will guide you in the right direction.

That's the first thing. And the second thing is, you, you have to be able to say them across power lines. So it shouldn't matter who is the most senior in the room. This is language like available to anyone. And another reason I don't like the integrity one is because calling someone out for being low integrity, there's no way, it's just like not gonna happen.

It's too scary, especially across power lines. So imagining these phrases actually use in the run of work when it's like hard to get it right. . And the other one is just two again, random people corner of the org. You don't know them. They're making a decision about something that's never gonna reach your desk as a leader ever.

Just like what will help them and like, will you be confident? It'll help them take the step in the right direction. Cuz the truth is like the shadow org is as powerful as the actual org. And what these two people that in the conversation you'll never know about, like a lot of the work is happening there.

So will you feel confident the right [00:24:00] step is gonna be taken once this thing is said?

Andy: That's helpful both because it, it feels like an introspection. You can often get lost and have things that, that like seem like they'll be useful , but don't actually provide a, a compass.

And then yeah, they'll like, will, will these actually kinda like help you swim upstream against like the, you know, the, the power current that's, that's going on and

Brie: Yeah, I like that phrase swim upstream because I, I think a lot of I think a lot of individual contributors feel like that, like the, the, the force is sort of like against something that they might want and just like, what do you do? Especially cuz oftentimes the individual contributors are actually closest to the work.

And then the, the first thing you mentioned reminded me of that thing that I was saying before, which is that a reasonable person should be able to disagree. Which is like how you got to the actually sort of like opinionated

Andy: Yeah, it's like it's, they're, they're, they're useful on the edge where, where like a reasonable person could go either way and is like this pointer saying, here we go this way

Brie: yeah. You know, there was,

Andy: yeah.

Brie: there's one I [00:25:00] worked on for a company called OnDeck, and we, we ended up building a careers page a forked version of the careers page on this called Reasons Not to Join On Deck. And on there was you, the, the one that was most controversial and had the most people like leave the, leave the funnel, leave the recruiting funnel in a helpful way was you want a nine to five job.

And the reality of On Deck at the time was that it was a global organization. Like people were just truly up around the clock. It was, they said they like worked entrepreneur style. and yeah, you often are gonna be getting pinged after 5:00 PM that is just like a reality of the org. And it was one of those things they just, they just said it cuz it was true.

And yeah, I th it, it turned a lot of people off, but in their opinion, it turned the right people off because they were not gonna have a good time.

Andy: Yeah. And, and turn 'em off at the right time

Brie: Yes, exactly.

Yeah. The thing that's like still marinating on, like the who do you exclude

Andy: Mm-hmm.

Brie: question one, one thing that I do talk to founders about, especially if they want something super opinionated, like the seek [00:26:00] pain one or the nine to five job one, I always tell them like, it's really important to keep a list of the people who were turned off.

And then do, do like some look at that list which, and ask yourself the question, am I exclu, like unfairly excluding a group of people. So this nine to five, one, the concern really was around like parents. It just like, Might you want parents, like in this group or like folks who have commitments outside of work?

Like are you accidentally excluding people you want or like an un there's like an unfair lens. The seek pain one. It's funny, actually Amjad brought this up, but we are thinking a lot about just like your upbringing, , how that might influence whether pain is exciting to you and like whether there is gonna be some kind of miss there.

So anyway, I like, I do recommend some kind of retrospective or look back just to make sure you're not unfairly excluding groups or like there's, it's not disproportionately affecting some, some set

Niko: One thing I keep thinking about is like where the operating principles fit in the hierarchy of other sort of [00:27:00] cultural relics. Like, like your mission, your purpose, your values and it, can you see it in a hierarchy or are they just next to each other? How does that all fit

Brie: Yeah. It's a good question. These are the documents I call like constitutional documents, and I would say there's three of those. There's like your mission. and your vision, and maybe those are one or two. And then your operating principles, and if like a new hire reads only a couple things like these, these are it.

So I think they're like primo importance.

Andy: So I think that's probably a good transition to like talking. So like maybe walking through the employee life cycle about like, how do these operating principles show up? You're like brand new to a company. Walk us through maybe the experience with operating principles and like what that should feel like.

Brie: Yeah. Yeah. So the maybe like basically as early as possible these operating principles coming to you, like ideally in a written form so you can sort of. Metabolize them on your own. Like as [00:28:00] we've been talking about, hopefully they're like specific enough to make you go. In fact, I think Ben Horowitz says something around like, they should make you ask a why question.

So they should be sort of like a rich source of storytelling or understanding something in particular about the org. So yeah, they come to you in some kind of written format. And then what I recommend to the founders that I work with is that they do a session dedicated to these, that it is not like a one way like this is, these are like commandments coming down to you from the gods, but the, this is very much a conversation.

And one company that I worked with, they had this really neat onboarding mechanism where they have a bunch of, like OGs do a session with the newbies and they say like, how do these operating principles bounce off you? What in like your experience, like makes you think this like would or would not work?

And that's like a really generative discussion about the culture of the new company.


Andy: asking the new hires those

Brie: And vice versa. So the, the newbies will be like, whoa, really seek pain? Like, what's that about? Like are, yeah, does it like, are you in pain ? What does it mean? And there's just like a really [00:29:00] like kind of turpintine-y or like ground levelly discussion about like how these things actually show up that it's not like some, yeah, again, some Mount Rushmore of ideas.

It's just like real things that guide behavior. So having this a two-way discussion, super important and with the acknowledgement that everybody comes to their new job with an, with their own background and experiences and their own cultures work and otherwise, that like, would make some of these things probably more or less natural fit.

So just talking about like why they are how they are is, will probably be a comfort. To everyone. And basically the, there's a lot of things I think are important about onboarding, but if you take it from the lens of the company, it's just like making sure there's no like organ rejection right away.

So I think a conversation around these is a really helpful like wheel greasing exercise. It like doesn't drop you in the cold pool. You can sort of like wade your way in. Other important parts of the rollout designing interview [00:30:00] questions around them. This is like, people forget this one a lot, but it's like so important.

Imagine if you don't hire or think about any of these qualities in your hiring process, then you like come to this onboarding session and this is like someone like completely rejects the way you work. I mean, devastating for on both sides.

Niko: And do, do you recommend that that companies have an interview specifically to ask those questions or should they be baked into everybody's interview questions and sort of split up amongst the the interviewing

Brie: What I typically recommend is that there is a dedicated interview process to maybe not do all of them, but like the two or three that like you feel like are real differentiators. And also that that person is like not on the hiring loop.

They should have not necessarily have any sense of how this person will perform in their like technical or tactical duties and all just about like, how will they jive with the broader team. . And we'll talk about this more in the culture carriers cuz they're good candidates for interviewing on these.[00:31:00]

But yeah, having an interview that's just like specifically around this and then also making all the interviewers aware that they can speak to the values as part of their, like roundup .

Andy: So we've talked about the interview, the onboarding. What about more, kinda like in the course of operations, like how operating principles show up?

Brie: Yeah. I mean the, so the conversation we were having earlier, like probably most of these things are gonna be used in places like you as a leader don't see. So that was just something to know. But there's a few places where you can sort of like promote this stuff to the company stage. And one of them that I really advocate for is having some kind of like storytelling mechanism where like if somebody truly upholds these operating principles in like spectacular ways to like document that story and make it like an honor to get onto that list of stories of operating principles.

So not like, oh, you ship the blog post, that's like part of your job description and now you get a move fast badge. I mean like massive headwinds on this thing [00:32:00] happening. And like somebody did something amazing to make it true. Document that story. Tell it like make a big deal. that's one. And then another thing that we had at Stripe that I actually haven't seen that many companies implement, but I really liked it and I hope more do is we had on our company pulse survey, one of the questions was, who amongst your peers most like, uphold the Stripe values?

And I will say, out of any like, promotion, raise, whatever I ever got, seeing my name on that list was like more meaningful to me than anything else. And I think I have some priors that make that true, but it really meant a lot to see that. And again, it was literally just a slide. I didn't go to a special dinner.

I didn't get a bonus. It was like just your name on your, on the slide. And that meant a lot. So I think, yeah.

Niko: it was like after the, is it like a quarterly pulse survey and then

Brie: Yeah, I think it, I think we did like twice a year or something.

Niko: And then in the full team meeting they'd be like, these, these are the people who are [00:33:00] mentioned?

Brie: Yeah, exactly. And it was like 10 people, and then everyone would just sort of like clap and that was like the whole thing. That was it. But it meant a lot.

Niko: We're, we're, we're, we're sending our pulse survey out in like two weeks. And I'm gonna, I'm gonna implement this.

Brie: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think there's something about, again, like I have some priors that make this true for me, but a jury of my peers saying this is true, versus like, some manager, I can brown nose my way too or something. That just seems more real to me.

Andy: Let's let's talk about culture carriers a bit. So, what is a culture carrier to.

Brie: Yeah. Well, I, I wanna hear y I wanted to ask you the question first. Like, what is your assumption when you hear that word, or what do you think of?

Niko: the first thing that comes to mind for me is like, who are the people that I would love to clone? And not because of their, like, their skillset, but because of like who they are and how they show up. So that's the first thing that comes to mind for me.

Brie: How about you, Andy?

Andy: They're the people who like, [00:34:00] if you like, suddenly you know, lost all of your like mission, vision, values, like operating principles, that sort of stuff. And you had to like rewrite it from scratch. They're like the people, you'd be like, these people can figure it out and produce something that was like just as good if not better than, than what you had to begin with.

And and. Like thinking about my experience with culture carriers, they're usually people who understand the things that aren't fully written down and convey that little like, extra bit of the culture that is not in the textbook. Like the kind of can only, like you have to, you have to experience it.

Right. It's, it's like a difference between like going to see the play versus just reading it is there's that like extra little bit of of magic in it.

Brie: Yeah, it's so funny. I. , everybody knows who these are. If you're like, who are the culture carries of the org? Everybody knows what it means, but it's for some reason very hard to put a definition behind it. But I, I did kind of try to go seek out some, I, [00:35:00] I think the shorthand for it is just like, who do you go to?

And even if you're like, go to for what? I'm just like, I don't know. Who do you go to? I think it's probably that person. But I did find like two, two sort of descriptions. One is like an OG phrase that from Keith Rabois called barrels. Does it ring any bells?

Andy: I think I've seen that talk. Yeah. The like, kind of the, the, the barrels and the ammunition

Brie: yeah. yeah. And the idea is like the work has to move through the barrels. Like even if you have unlimited supply of ammunition, if you don't have enough barrels to like move the work through, you can't get it done. So I think that there's, like, the thing that's correct about that is it's something that's like greases the wheels for others.

The thing that's wrong about that I think is it's not like all about work stuff. Cuz I think the, who do you go to is often for like bad, bad day, like boba walk kind of person. And then I found something that actually like, excited me more on this topic. Actually from a prospective Constellate customer.

This, this week where he showed me a blog post from Carta from like a while [00:36:00] ago. What is 2017? Where they say they mapped the shadow organization. And to do this, they ask employees three questions. And this is like a firm that like does this, which is who energizes you at work? Who do you go to for help and advice, and who do you go to when a decision needs to be made?

And anyway, they like map out the nodes. Surprise, surprise. They're not always your manager. and the kind of actionable insight here is you can actually, if you wanna make organizational change, you can actually just go through 10 or 15 people and those 10 or 15 people are nodes for the like 90% of the org .

And I think that's probably the closest to like a technical definition. I can imagine.

Andy: Yeah,

I can see orgs kinda like existing. Are there, there are these culture carriers. They're, they're doing their thing. But then also maybe like you wanna use them in some way or leverage them or empower them or I'm not sure like what the right, what the right framing of that is, but

Brie: I think there's a few, like there's a few sort of like [00:37:00] actions around the culture carriers that I think are like . One is to just like have a list of. and not like in your head, like a real list, like you and the rest of the leadership team. Like have a list of people, like maybe this is like your, we must retain these people list.

But also it's the list of like, oof, we're about to like do layoffs and we're like thinking about the messaging. Like, I wanna know how this is actually gonna land with like our people who can I like ask in confidence. Like they play a real role in like ear to the company and like also understanding of the leader, the mission and company.

So I think there's like something about like, you wanna keep these people happy and like maybe sometimes that will be like with special perks and, I don't know, job titles and money. And sometimes it will be like, for just advice.

Andy: Yeah.

Brie: the best founders I know actually have this list. And they're called all different things and they're like, they're usually, they're like not in Notion, they're like a note on their phone. and like, and also to the point of like looking backwards and seeing who's on it. Like just making sure that [00:38:00] like you have like the right representation of like gender and tenure and backgrounds and experience company and all this stuff.

Andy: And, and if a person wanted to become a culture carrier, I I, is that something that, that you can grow into? Like how, how, how should a, how should, how should you think about that?

Brie: Yeah. Such a good question. So there's, I think I listened to it on Long Form podcast. There's one with the, the incoming Editor in Chief of Vanity Fair. And she basically was just like, I read every single issue, like cover to cover.

And I think there was something about like a deep understanding of like the lore matters. Like, as much as you can, like ingest, listen to the founders, on podcasts, read all the docs, see what stuff gets spotlighted. Watch all the all hands. I think it's, it's like something about training your internal model for like what does this company like.

There's something about like generating the internal taste mechanism that's like in the direction of the company [00:39:00] and the, the leaders. Yeah, I'm thinking about this a lot actually cuz we're, I'm about to bring on a co-founder for Constellate and just like how to like, bring this person up to speed.

And we, we know each other a long time. We've worked together forever, but there's something new about working together in this environment. And like the, the best thing I just landed on, I was just like, just read the whole Slack . Like it's not that long, it's only a few months, but just like read all of it.

Maybe the last point about culture carriers or like becoming one is just to like ask for feedback all the time. That's a general best practice. It's like the scariest, weirdest thing to do. But if you can find a low stakes way to just be like, yo, did you like working with me this week? Like, would you be a repeat customer of Brie?

Like if there's a way to do that without, like in excruciatingly crippling. I don't know, anxiety, I, I think that's a pretty good way of sizing up, how you're doing in this new, new place,

Andy: Cool. That, that's a great, great suggestion. So let's talk about a culture of writing for a bit. You've written about Stripe's culture of writing, and, [00:40:00] I feel there's I'm sure like best practices and tools and things like that.

But, but what I gather from the way you write about is that like there's an experience to it that is important maybe at a center on first. And so maybe you can start there just like, what, what is, like, what does it feel like to be in a culture of writing? How, how is that? . how does that show up in your experience?

Brie: Yeah, it's, that's a really good question. I'm trying to think of the first place to start. Okay. Maybe best way to describe this is actually like starting from a place of Not Stripe. Where a long time ago I told a story of The Moth. Do you know this? Like it's a storytelling podcast? Yeah. Yeah. And a weird thing that I took away from that is that after, like I said, this story where it was just me talking out this microphone, all these people in this room felt close to me, but I, I don't know them, but I could tell they felt close to me because they would come and talk to me after and sh or share something vulnerable or whatever.

And that was like something light bulb went off there where it was like, whoa, [00:41:00] I had to produce this thing one time to make like all these people feel close to me. Maybe that sounds kind of like egocentric, but I think it was just, , it helped me understand that writing or like producing an artifact of something is also functions as a magnet to others.

So the way I would tie this to Stripe or like the experience of being in a culture of writing is that I felt close to anybody who produced an artifact of their work. I felt closer to their work cuz I saw them writing it or like I, or I didn't see them writing it. I saw the, I saw the thing that ended up on the other side.

So it was like, oh, now I have like a very detailed and specific sense of like, what the heck you're up to over there. And maybe to your question about like, what is a cozy organization, like a real toxic question I think that flows in organizations is like, what does she even do? Or like, what does he even do?

People love saying that. What do they even do? And I hate that question. I think it's so toxic because everyone's doing a lot, you just don't see it. But there's something [00:42:00] about like the culture of writing where you see people's, the work that they've produced you like believe they're. Doing a lot because you see it.

So I would say that's the experience. Like that's the cozy feeling. I could just read five docs at breakfast and like I feel closer to my colleagues and I don't have to go into their dms. I don't have to like sit next to them at lunch. I don't have to go for a walk. I just read what they already wrote.

And also an unlimited number of people can read that same artifact. So I would say like, that's the, that's the experience. Does that paint a picture?

Andy: It does. Yeah. I Is there anything specific? about the writing the lens to that, that, that, that coziness, that trust, kind of all of that, or is it just having it

Brie: Yeah, the, there is a very meaningful second piece to it that I think comes from. , a belief that John and Patrick and maybe other leaders had that now I believe too, which is the value of writing isn't only, its extrinsic [00:43:00] value, like the artifact it produces, it's the intrinsic value, the process of writing the thing makes you think about it better.

So that like, just to write the doc actually like levels the author up in some way.

Andy: Sure.

Brie: And then also to have it consumed like levels up everybody else who reads it in some way. So kind of writing as tool for thinking.

Andy: Yeah.

Brie: would say like I had my like intellectual awakening at Stripe, which is like a pretty weird thing to say. but I like read a lot as a child. I kind of stopped through like grade school through college, honestly. And when I got to Stripe and Ira, all these smart people doing cool shit, all of a sudden I was like so thirsty for knowledge. And when I like think about like why I'm so obsessed with Stripe in some ways, like this is why, like if birth like a real Yeah.

Intellectual spark for me.

Niko: what, what sort of things should people be writing about? Like if I'm an employee at a company and I'm like, should I write about this or not? Like [00:44:00] what sort of criteria should people be thinking about?

Brie: Such a good question. I've been like, this is what I spent all my days now thinking about for a Constellate. Like what should people write? Like when is the right time? And I've kind of boiled it down to two things. You did something cool and you wanna tell people about it. And I, I, like I say, cool, and I mean the word cool.

It's like I, I don't know, jumped off. building in a like flying suit or I like, like found this gnarly bug and I squashed it. And that's cool. And because I'm a person that like does this work all day, every day and I think it's cool. You're like, definitely gonna think it's cool. And maybe like, the best example I can think of of this one is Wilson Minor, like amazing OG designer, like incredible force of design at Stripe.

Like kind of mellow, quiet guy. He just like dropped this like amazing memo about like Stripes colors, and like why like this specific hex code, like why this blueish purple shade and not like the [00:45:00] one that's like one notch to the left or one notch to the right of it. And like what an accessibly inaccessible page looks like for us and like how we had to change our color schemes to do that.

And like, what happens to your eye when you see this or that? Amazing. Like, this expert is working amongst me and now I just get to read this wisdom. Cool. Like, thanks for telling me Wilson. And like I look up to that guy so much. I already did. And now I have like a specific reason too. So that's one. Like I did something cool.

The second piece is like, I call this like in I care a lot memo. And usually this is the form of like something is really pissing you off. or like there's a thorn in your side about something and you're just like, why does this process work this way? Or like, why do we support this kind of user?

Or like, yeah, just like, what the heck is going on and why do I have to, and I'm so annoyed as an expert that works on this thing, yuck, . And I like, think of these as like a sizzling memo or something. Maybe like the peanut butter memo is like a great example of this of [00:46:00] just like, God, this bothers me.

And there's like a tone to these things that like. if that works and it helps it fall on ears. Like you can do that thing from a voice of optimism. But yeah, like the, I care a lot about this memo .

Andy: So when you think about kind of like the. The full stack that goes into kind of like having a culture that's doing a thing, like writing, you know, you've, you've got the people operating principles and all of that stuff. There's tooling, there's kind of all of that. Like how, what are some of the key pieces of that that go into having an effective culture of writing

Brie: Yeah. This is, this is a great question. And like, this is the money shot. It's just like a, have a process that creates, or like forces an artifact to be produced. Like that is the silver bullet. It's just like qbr, here's the template. All the people fill out the qbr. Now everyone at the company can read it.

Andy: and QBR, for folks...

Brie: So, Quarterly business review. So it was like, okay, [00:47:00] it's. , it's the end of q1. It's mid-March. Everyone who leads a business function at this company or like a roller, an org or whatever, please tell us how it's been going. Here's the temp template. Here's the five questions I have about like, how are things generally going at this org?

Please fill in this document. And at the end of this process, we are going to publish all of these quarterly business reviews to the entire org. And like, what a cheat code. Now all of a sudden, every single person in the organization gets to know how it's going in every single org. And it's funny, I think leaders are like, they do this naturally.

They're like, Ugh, I really need to know how something's going. And they make a request for information to come to them and like there's probably a specific set of things they wanna know, so they ask, and then that information just like kind of stays between those like two or maybe five people. But just like producing a org, ready artifact and then just sharing it.

So anyway, it's like the process plus artifact. Or process that produces artifact planning? Onboarding, like where there's a readable [00:48:00] at the end?

Andy: and, and is it important that there's like a, a cadence to it like this, like it's quarterly or is it more just kinda like tied into some like, okay, well, like we're, we're, we're shipping a feature and that might not happen at a specific cadence, but it's

Brie: Yeah, good question.

Andy: like does that

Brie: Yeah. The way I think about this, and like I would put this all in like in the operating rhythm category, which like dovetails to your point into the writing stuff, is that there's set cadence things. These are like reviewing dashboards, whatever, stuff that will help you catch your blind spots QBR, that sort of thing.

And then there's a whole other set of things that accompany that I call 'em like event triggered. So, Someone pushed the big red button, cuz I think we're, there's like something broken in the code to there's a hot deal coming in. We wanna talk about it with the key leaders. There's a launch coming up.

We're making a big decision about this product. These sort of things where you sort of become intuitively aware that you're, you're gonna make a decision or punch above your kind of pay grade and you wanna bring other people along in the process. Stripe mostly through the help of Claire. Our [00:49:00] COO got extremely good at this.

And it's an extremely stabilizing force for the org because, you know, like if I have a question, there's a place to go.

Andy: Yeah. Have a process that produces an artifact. An artifact seems simple to say. What, what are some of the, the places, say folks trip up in doing it, or, or is it just like not a full commitment to doing it?

Brie: I think it's mostly that and then maybe like not setting the rules. Appropriately. So like, how do I know when to go. Here's like a cool thing that happened recently. So I did this operating rhythm project with with a company and the idea was like, let's set up the forums to, to, to do this work to get people in to, to get advice on their work streams.

And there was a lot of concern, like it was gonna feel micromanage energy. Like here's a template you have to fill out before you come to the da da da . We had to like double the length of all the mechanisms cuz everyone was, they wanted to come, they like, wanted to bring their work and like get it reviewed and get the input, which I was like, this is amazing.

people want your help and you thought you [00:50:00] were gonna micromanage by telling them what to do, but like everyone just wants to do a good job. So I think it's getting prescriptive about when you come and like what you can bring to the forum that will show that you've done a good job or asked the question in the right way.

Or to just like get prepared.

Andy: Okay. And, and the forum that is, could you go maybe a bit deeper

Brie: Yeah.

Andy: how it fits with the.

Brie: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So one example of a forum could be like launch review, go to market launch review, and the template for go-to-market launch review is probably something like, okay, gimme a run a show. Like, what's happening at 8:00 AM 8 15 9? What, like, who's doing it? And like to the tool for thinking too, like producing this artifact probably makes you like, get a tighter process in line, but also is like, Hey, this is how you just like do a good job on this launch.

You just like create a run of show. You assign DRIs to like each part and then the leader can look and be like, oh, like blog posts at nine. Like, I haven't seen the blog posts yet. Can we get a draft in here for me? This sort of thing. It's like, okay. Yeah, I, I like the messaging, like we should also like bring in our student offering into [00:51:00] this line.

Like it's sort of that sort of mechanism where you oversee the, the final state or something. Does it make.

Andy: Yep. Yep.

Brie: Yeah. I should say we talked a lot about writing, but something I've reluctantly changing my mind a little bit on as I work more on Constellate is like, I, over time I'm seeing this, like this is coming out in videos too. It's coming out and like I, I see like a one founder I work with doing like audio memos, which I think is like really cool.

So anyway, I'm, I'm starting to become more open-minded about what the final artifact can be. Still think there's something about like the scanability and snackability of words that's helpful, but I like, I think there's other formats for consumption that could work too.

Andy: Yeah. Yeah. So an artifact in, in the world that like proactive sharing.

Brie: Yeah.

Andy: Cool.

Niko: and this is getting a little tactical, but are we talking about like people sharing stuff and documents on Slack or like what are. , what are the actual tools that a company should have in place so that these documents are organized [00:52:00] and shared appropriately? Discoverable,

Brie: I tee you up so well. That's what I'm building. . That's what Constellate is. It's basically a space to organize this context Setting information.

Niko: there's gotta be a better way.

Brie: yeah, yeah. Enter Constellate but yeah, I think the, the, the core hypothesis of Constellate is like when you do the FYIs stuff around the to-do stuff, and because the FYIs are like important and non-urgent, they just go into the abyss

and I wanna build a home that people can come back to as sort of like a collective read it later or something. Like, did I have to know about like, Wilson's color choice? Like not really. Does that give me like something like a special glow to the org that I'm in? Yeah. If I, like, there's no, I would've found it in like the design Slack channel.

So having a tool where you can, where like there is a way to promote visibility on some of this stuff. A lot of companies will have like a company digest, which Constellate helps with, or like an all hands is the obvious one.[00:53:00] But there probably should be a steady stream of these somewhere.

Andy: Could you talk us through maybe the, the, the origin story of like, how did you come to realize that that was a, a pain point to,

Brie: Yeah. Yeah. This, so a thing that kept surprising me that founders would say is like, we said this in all hands. We sent an email about it and still it like went in one ear and out the other, and I was like, there's so. , that's like failing about the tool set, about this, like information and visibility stuff like this, like idea or something has been marked as important.

It's like been put in the all hands. It's like been messaged in the Slack and like still it's just not getting read. Like how is that possible? And I'm like an ops-y person, so I was like, okay, we're gonna like f we're gonna build a process that like works. So I like tried it in Slack. We tried it in email, which is what Stripes system was built off of, and it just like didn't work.

And it was so frustrating. Like we couldn't get this, we couldn't get the people to read the, the Wilson Colors memo or the peanut butter memo. It just like, it was just like skip or [00:54:00] like archive, which to me I'm like, this is devastating. This is the whole, this is like the richest part of org life. Is these like cross-functional connections over like the deep work.

So yeah, I like have called myself a reluctant founder, which you pointed out. And I think this is why like, I don't. , my instinct is not to go to software to solve a thing. It's like to go to the norms and to go to the process. But there is still a tool failing.

Andy: Where is the, the, the failing

Brie: The most specific example I can give is like, yeah, imagine the, the Wilson Memo goes out into Slack. It's like in Design Notes channel. Maybe I'm lucky and I like come into that channel at the right time and like, something I'll say that I realize is broken about email and Slack is that the most important thing is like what time the message was sent.

But like, that's not the most important thing. The most important thing is like, there's good stuff here and like if I didn't go into the design notes at the right time, like probably people would've been like, Hey, Boba Walk. Or like, what should, like, are you coming to the meeting and like all of a sudden that Wilson's [00:55:00] notes would be lost above the fold

which like devastating. So stuff gets buried in channels, it gets like bumped out. Somebody needs to curate it elsewhere. Or you like set a notification like, okay, I, I did catch it in the design channel. I like Mark as unread. And so this is one of 10 things that are unread. The other nine things are like, Hey, can you update this data point?

Or, Hey, can you like give me feedback on this blog post? And all of a sudden when I'm like in the desperate need for inbox zero, I'm just like, I'm marking that Wilson thing unread. I can't have that red dot down there.

Niko: I'm so curious how you're thinking about solving this problem. Like, cuz there's certainly, there's certainly tools that are better than just posting something in Slack, but like what makes Constellate or how are you thinking about it? In a different way to.

Brie: Yeah. One like crazy decision that like every growth person and every product person is like your a monster is just saying like, there's no notifications here. And there's no comments. So you literally cannot [00:56:00] assign work in this tool. It's impossible. There is like nice ways to like send an email or Slack from the tool, but you can't do any discourse in there.

So it is literally just a like list of things to read. It's like Hacker News without the comments. And it has like very web toy, like social tagging stuff so that you can sort of build a reading list in categories that works for you. So yeah, it's like, it's a very opinionated tool I would say. Like it has some real quirks built in.

And like the constraint I'm excited about with the no comments and no notifications is like, I have to make sure that the content in there is like so good that it gets bookmarked and like you go instead of Instagram .

Niko: I'm just, I'm just so stuck on the No, the, the no notifications part. Cause I'm thinking like someone posts something in there. It should probably be integrated with Slack and like be posted on all these channels and stuff. Or like, I can subscribe to a tag and then like learn that someone's posted it.

But you're saying No, none of that. I need to go check.

Brie: do like, we'll do some kind of like a, I think [00:57:00] about it more as like a Spotify weekly or something

Discover Weekly where like, you know, the whole point is like, you don't need to read it right now. It's like, we don't need to interrupt your day to like get this thing in front of you. Just like come when you're doing your coffee warmup or your cool down, you know, one like user reflected back to me.

He was like, yeah, there's probably 30 minutes a day. I don't know where to look. , I'm just kind of like in an infinite loop of like my inboxes and like docs and notion and whatever. It's like it'd be nice to just go here. So that's the idea is like when you're in the mood you go and I will try not to bother you otherwise.

I'm very much like curation is the new creation. Like we've got a lot of good stuff out there, but just someone's gotta tell you. So the feed is like very signal boosted up votes re reactions, the whole thing.

Andy: How, how can listeners help you?

Brie: oh, it was really just fun to talk about it. I I'm obsessed with like, kind of serving users that I think I will like genuinely like, so if these ideas feel resonant, like, [00:58:00] and op, you wanna get your company on an operating rhythm, you wanna create values that feel like you you wanna put information in a place where people will read it when they're in the mood, these kinds of things, if that feels like it could work for your org, like, I wanna hear about it. I wanna hear about your org is like how you wanna change and hopefully you can let me help you

Andy: Should you do some rapid fire?

Brie: Hit me.

Niko: Oh Oh yeah, yeah,

Okay. Let me kick it off here. What is a story that illustrates what culture means to you personally and from your own career?

Brie: I'm back to thinking about the Stripe lunchroom. And like the thing that's specifically coming to mind is for our like employee gathering. The guest speaker was, this was in 2015. The guest speaker was Alan Kay and Stewart Brand. I think my friend had like Michael Phelps at his, and I was like, who is Stewart Brand and Alan K? And like, what are these like guys doing here in our parking lot where like their podium was set up? [00:59:00] And I don't know, I, I talked about the intellectual, intellectual awakening a little bit, but like the, that was the primordial ooze of stripe was like Stewart Brand in our cafeteria. Yeah.

Andy: This next one is, what do leaders too often underemphasize or overemphasize when it comes to company culture?

Brie: Oh my god, definitely.

Andy: what do you think is overrated, underrated.

Brie: Yeah. Overrated. Like, way overrated is like any forced fun. Like, please, dear God, do not put me on a trivia Zoom. I will, I will throw my laptop out this window before I attend a virtual company picnic. But no, I like, I'm mostly being silly. I like, I know when you're feeling like your team's out of touch, like jumping to the social stuff helps, but, and I say underinvested in the same thing, is like connection over work.

You want two people to get to know each other, just have them work on something. That's the best way.

Niko: Hmm. I love that. It's almost like a fine line between the two. Like you want people to have fun and connect, but you can't force it.

Brie: it. It's fun to [01:00:00] kick ass on a project.

Niko: Yeah.

Brie: It's actually fun, not like, yeah. It just actually is

Niko: Nice. Okay. So if you could be a part of any team or organization across history, what would you choose?

Brie: know what I'm gonna say already

Niko: Stripe

Brie: it. no. But I do feel very blessed to have been part of that team.

Niko: Wait, was that that, so that was the answer.

Brie: No, no. Bell Labs. Sure.

Niko: oh,

Brie: So, you know, now that I just had. . I recently read a book about the Exploratorium Frank Op, which is an weirdly Frank Oppenheimer's project. But that seemed pretty cool too. It was like after there was a whole, you know, thing after the after the atomic bomb. And like one thing that he came to later was like to build this museum of science for kids and adults. And anyway, that seemed like a pretty neat and special crew. Okay, those are the two weird answers.

Niko: Yeah. Sweet.

Andy: What's a non-business book that influences how you approach your work?[01:01:00]

Brie: These are deep questions for rapid fire. Oh, Anne Lamont, bird by Bird.

Andy: Oh,

Brie: You know, this one, Niko like a, how I write kind of book or why I write sort of thing. But yeah, I think. Well, yeah. Tips for writing I think are often like good tips for life cuz it's about like being in your body and understanding what's going on around you and being a keen observer and anyway.

Yeah. Bird by bird.

Niko: I'm gonna check it out.

Brie: Yes. Do it.

Niko: Okay, final question. This one might be related, but we'll see. What non-business hobby or pursuit most influences how you approach your work?

Brie: Ooh, I don't even know the line between like work and not work anymore. Truly, truly. But maybe like a riff on this question is like where I'm, I feel like most creative and contemplative or something, or like where good ideas come to me [01:02:00] and I've kind of recently taken up backcountry skiing and something about like the slog up the hill and the snow and the mountain is just like, that is a, those are ripe conditions for, for my brain. and I have no access to a laptop.

Andy: And that's the end of the rapid fire questions.

Brie: That was so fun. Thank you,

Andy: Yeah. Thanks. That was a blast.

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All right. Talk to you next time. Bye. [01:03:00]